Democratic poll finds Critz with early lead

July 18, 2012

Polling from the Democratic camp shows incumbent Mark Critz with a six- to 10-point lead over Republican Keith Rothfus in the race to represent the 12th Congressional District.

The Rothfus campaign on Wednesday didn’t have its own polling to release, and didn’t dispute the Democratic numbers.

But Rothfus campaign manager Jon Raso said the trend showed momentum for his candidate.

A poll by the New House Majority PAC and Service Employees International Union gives Critz a 44 percent to 38 percent edge in November’s general election matchup.

The poll of 400 likely voters was taken between July 9 and 11. It has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

Critz spokesman Mike Mikus said the campaign’s internal polling taken several weeks ago showed Critz up by 10 points.

“These are very encouraging numbers, most definitely,” Mikus said.

“It’s clear the people of western Pennsylvania are getting to know Mark’s record and like what they see. Mark’s committed to this economy and putting people back to work,” he said.

“To only represent a very small portion of this district currently and to have a lead at this point is very encouraging.”

The 12th district was expanded by the state Legislature as part of the decennial redistricting. The district now reaches as far as the North Hills of Pittsburgh.

Mikus talked of the Johns­town congressman’s strength, leading in the polls while having represented only 30 percent of the voters in the redrawn district. He assailed Rothfus’ performance, chiding him for running for Congress since 2009 – yet remaining mired in the 30s in the polls.

Another view

That’s not how Raso sees things.

“We are extremely pleased where we are with the campaign,” Raso said in a statement.

“Having such broad support from the people of this district – to allow us to be this close to an incumbent congressman in a poll taken by a Democrat superpac and the SEIU 31⁄2 months away from election day – is gratifying.

“That said, we are going to continue to take our positive message of creating jobs, preserving Social Security and Medicare for our seniors, and controlling our debt and cutting the deficit in Washington directly to the voters.”

In releasing the poll results, the New House Majority PAC couldn’t resist taking a thinly veiled poke at Rothfus, an Allegheny County lawyer.

“We need a representative who will work to make sure job creation is priority No. 1, and who will stand with working people, not the elite 1 percent,” the political action committee quoted Sandy Williams of Johns­town, an SEIU member.

“Working people are for Mark Critz because he has shown that he understands the needs of working people and their families,” she was quoted.

The underdog Critz eked out a spring primary victory against fellow Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire of Pittsburgh. Some observers credited active union support for Critz’s narrow margin of victory: Less than 1,700 votes of 62,000 cast.

Rothfus was unopposed for the Republican nomination.